About my jar

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As I talked about here, in 2017 I kept a Happiness Jar. It helped me stay positive each day as it forced me to notice all the little and sometimes big things that brought me happiness.  I’m glad I did it. Reading all of my scribbled notes from my Happiness Jar on 12/31 brought back to mind moments that I had forgotten about. Doing this gave me a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies and made me realize what a great year overall it had been for me.

In this post, I grandly proclaimed that 2018 was going to be the year of the “Goodness Jar”.  I thought it would be fun to keep this jar thing going, just in a new way.  My plan was, at the end of each day, I would jot down something I did or said that exemplified “goodness” to me. I started this practice in earnest on 1/1. After a few days, I came to the conclusion that the “Goodness Jar” was not meant to be. It felt like everything I came up with was, for lack of a better descriptor, lame. I found myself obsessing about what “goodness” looks like in my day to day life. The word “goodness” quickly became meaningless. I mean, who am I to determine what “goodness” is? It was all just too much for my 50 year old brain. While I certainly had good intentions, I simply didn’t take enough time to think it through before leaping into it.

So I’m scrapping this idea. Perhaps my jar would be better put to use by using my creative culinary skills to make homemade “hootch” to store in this jar. Perhaps I could bedazzle my jar, stick a candle in it and set it out somewhere as home decor. Perhaps I could fill it with skittles and send it to one of my most favorite bloggers. I think it would help her to get through whatever time is left on the Trump presidency.

As worthy as those ideas may be, I have instead decided to re-christen my former Happiness/Goodness Jar the “Kindness Jar”.  The thing is, the Happiness/Goodness Jar was really all about me. What made me happy. I think it’s time to focus more on others. Like doing something to bring a smile to someone’s face. Or clearly conveying to someone that I see them and hear them and believe they have value in this world.   As long as I resist the urge to overthink it, this might work.

To make this more doable interesting, I’m going to include not just what acts of kindness I believe I bestowed upon others, but the kindnesses that were gifted to me by others. I like the idea of documenting kindnesses both given and received. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll jot down acts of kindness that I simply witness in my every day life, whether it be between co-workers and clients, strangers on the bus, or folks out shopping at the grocery store. The setting matters not, while the actions will.  With this three pronged approach, I figure that I have no option other than to be hyper focused on kindness each and every day.

I recently saw this clip below, and it really resonates with me. I believe my blogging community is chock full of kind-hearted people who just might agree with me.


Cheers to kindness, people!



Why Oprah shouldn’t run in 2020

I along with I suppose gazillions of people on earth watched the Golden Globes last Sunday night. Oprah’s speech was a major highlight, as she inspired us all with hope for the future. People cried, cheered, and many took immediately to Twitter, declaring “Oprah for 2020”.

I get it. If the election was held today, I would vote for her. She has earned the trust of the American people by her inclusiveness, her honesty, and her integrity over the span of many years. And I suspect she’d probably win by a wide margin, especially if she was running against Trump. 

While I could just as easily pen a post declaring the reasons why Oprah should run,  I maintain she shouldn’t run for POTUS.

Why, you ask? In a nutshell, I think she’s got more important things to do. I also suspect that in her heart of hearts, she doesn’t want to be POTUS. I’ve heard her say multiple times in interviews that she has no interest in serving our country in this capacity.

Oprah is an expert, in my opinion, of lifting others up. I loved that unlike some people, she used her podium in this speech not to talk about herself and her own accomplishments, but to lift up the #metoo movement, making sure to note that this movement includes women from all fields, all walks of life, who have been sexually abused or harassed by men in power. She lifted up Recy Taylor  (who I had never heard of before this-thank you Oprah) and Rosa Parks. She emphasized the need for all of us to speak truth to power in these tumultuous times. She said what I think we all needed to hear.

You see, Oprah has exquisite judgement of who it is that deserves our attention. Our support. Our loyalty. I think we need to pay close attention to who she champions as our next political leaders. The female leaders that have political experience. The female leaders that have the right combination of heart and intellect. The female leaders who have the vision to move our country forward, in a positive direction.

Oprah has the financial means and the social influence to shine a bright light on whoever our next candidate for POTUS should be.

That should be her role. At least for now. I would suggest that whoever is our next POTUS, that she appoints Oprah to her cabinet, perhaps as Chief Advisor. That’s something I could really get behind.

The food of winter: Chili

I love chili. Making it, eating it, experimenting with it. It’s one of those rare dishes that almost everyone I know loves. It’s especially perfect during these winter months when you are chilled to the bone. I remember as a kid, when my mom would make a big batch, I’d watch my dad slather on what had to be a good tablespoon of butter onto each Saltine to accompany his hearty bowl of chili. To my dad, everything is better with butter.

One of the few things I remember my dad’s mom making was chili. Only hers was different than all the rest. She added chunks of celery and spaghetti. It was more of a soup than a chili, actually. It smelled and tasted delicious.

My oldest spawn has always been a fan of chili herself. Every year, while we were living in Wisconsin, there was a chili cook off sometime in February. She and I always talked of attending, but for whatever reason, we never did. I regret that.

When Hubs was on a rotating shift schedule and the spawn were elementary school aged, I remember heating up a can of Hormel chili (no beans) in the microwave to create chili dogs for supper sometimes.  My oldest and I loved this messy treat, while the youngest was perfectly happy with a plain old hot dog.

So in that spirit, I’d like to share with you the version of chili I came up with earlier this week. Hubs and I agreed it was the best chili I ever made, so I thought it only right to share it with you all.



1 lb. beef stew meat

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 small cans tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained

1 can chili beans, drained

1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes

Chili powder, to taste

Chihula hot sauce, to taste

Heat up the oil in a skillet. Brown the beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s ok to leave it reddish inside. Plop it into a crockpot. Add cans of tomato sauce, black and chili beans, and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Sprinkle in some chili powder and Chihula, to taste. Give it a good stir and set the crockpot to low. After a long day of work, walk in the door and savor the aroma. Pat yourself on the back for taking the approximately 20 minutes this morning to put this deliciousness together. Chop some yellow onions and get out the shredded cheddar and sour cream. Spoon up that chili into bowls and add the flourishes to your liking. Eat up!

And if you’re a family of two like we are, give yourself another pat on the back, because later in the week, or heck even next week, you will have a night of no cooking, because this chili freezes very well in individual plastic tupperware thingies.

Books I loved in 2017

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about books I’ve read this year for the longest time.  For many years, between raising kids, working full time, and other obligations, I didn’t do much reading beyond the magazines Hubs and I subscribed to.

When we moved to Colorado in the summer of 2016, knowing that I, at least for a time, would not be employed and therefore would have ample time to get back to regular reading, I totally went for it.

I read a fairly eclectic variety of books, from self-help to fiction to biographies. Whatever tripped my trigger as I perused the local library or bookstore.

Here’s some of the ones I read, all of which I highly recommend you check out:

Girl with the Lower Back Tatoo by Amy Schumer: an honest, self-deprecating, mostly humorous read. Amy includes stories of her coming up in the world of stand-up comedy, sprinkled with funny anecdotes about her family during her formative years. She is frank, personable, and fierce in her convictions.

Left, Neglected by Lisa Genova: This is a story told very convincingly from the perspective of a high-powered career woman, married with kids, who has a strained relationship with her mother. She is involved in a major car accident due to distracted driving on her way to a work meeting. Her entire world changes, as the accident left her with a brain injury that rendered the left side of her body invisible to her. This forces her to re-learn how to complete basic tasks, and it forces her to take a long, hard look at the drawbacks of how she lived her life prior to the accident. She finds herself having to rely on others for help, which for a take-charge, type-A personality, is incredibly challenging and humbling. Thankfully, it does have a happy ending.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal: I had never heard of this writer until she died in 2016. What drew me to her most was her open heart, her creativity, and her optimism. This is not a typical book by any stretch. It is very random and feels as if she is writing down her thoughts as they come to her. She includes funny little stories about experiences she had in her life. She gives great advice on how to live a joyful life. It is playful, heartfelt, and unique. And it is a very quick, light read.

The Nest: This book weaves a tale about a wealthy-ish  family from New England whose siblings have been counting on a large inheritance upon their father’s passing. What three of the four of them don’t know is that much of this inheritance was spent by their aloof mother on legal fees for the charismatic, alcoholic, “black sheep” of the family, who was sued by a young woman he dallied with in a car, which resulted in a major car accident which left her with a missing foot. The characters are drawn beautifully, to the point where I couldn’t help but visualize specific actors playing each part. I’ve heard that it is supposed to be made into a movie, and I sure hope that comes to pass.

Giant of the Senate by Al Franken: Hubs and I started listening to this one on audio book probably 2 months ago. I found Al to be a terrific storyteller and appreciated hearing about how he started in comedy, his time on SNL, and his hard fought battle to get elected to the senate. Then came those sexual harassment allegations on the news. This development reminded me of the time I awkwardly introduced myself to Al during a campaign event in Minnesota, which I chronicled here. For the record, Al did not sexually harass me. In case you were wondering. These allegations also brought up one anecdotal story Al told of in this book, where he talked of a time he made a joke about 60 Minutes anchor Andy Rooney raping Leslie Stahl. That really gave me pause. He realized upon making this joke that it was highly inappropriate so he didn’t include it in whatever book he was writing at the time. But the fact that even for a nanosecond, the man thought that was a funny joke…well, that put me off. It remains to be seen whether Hubs and I are going to pick up wherever it was we left off on this audio book. That said, I think it is a damn shame Al ended up resigning from the Senate. But I fully understand why he did it and why people thought he should.

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain by Barbara Strauch: Okay, it’s been some months since I read this one but I do recall learning quite a bit about the middle aged mind. From what I can recollect, please take this with a big grain of salt as I am approaching 51, the reason why those of us in the throes of middle age sometimes have trouble coming up with a word or recalling a certain memory is because there is so much knowledge we have accumulated through the years, that the stuff that is non-essential gets buried deep within. In middle age, the book tells us, our brains are better at recognizing patterns and coming up with creative solutions to problems. So, there’s still hope.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho: A gorgeous, spiritual book. The story is about a shepherd boy and his journey to seek a great treasure. It has an uplifting message about not giving up on your dreams, which is referred to as your Personal Legend. The story emphasizes the importance of the people you meet along the journey of life. It is such a special book that I sent it to one of my very best friends for her to read and pass along to her tween daughters.

Please tell me, my fellow bookworm readers, what books might you recommend for me in 2018?


Highlights of 2017/Positive Pursuits for 2018

2017 was quite the banner year for me personally. Looking back on the year, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Emotional maturity-wise. Self-esteem wise. My outlook has changed. My priorities have become more clear.

Suffice it to say, for me, 2017 has been a very memorable and transformative year.

Let’s see…in 2017:

I started this blog. This was a bit scary, as putting myself out there made (and makes) me emotionally vulnerable. A target for criticism, both self imposed and from others.  It’s been a very worthwhile pursuit for me despite that however. Through blogging, I have learned that the sky won’t fall in when I put myself out there in the blogosphere.

I started my weekly volunteer gig at the food bank. I have gained new friendships along with a deeper understanding of the plight of folks in Colorado grappling with food insecurity day in and day out. This has increased my sense of compassion and reinforced my belief that it is my duty as a capable human being to help others in all the ways I can.

I started a new job. I feel so blessed every day since I started. My new job is such a good fit for me on numerous levels. And very possibly the best part is that it is a part time job. Which gives me a good work/life balance as it affords me the time to pursue other passions. Like writing, for example.

I figured out my way around a new metropolis. By both car and public transportation, aka the RTD bus. I am now able to get to and fro, whether it be work, Target, the hairdresser, or the grocery store, without using GPS. It’s just one of those little things that gives me that sense of comfort one feels among familiar surroundings.

Hubs and I  hosted a crap ton of company, most of whom had never traveled to Colorado before. We had some great fun doing this and discovered lots of new places to go and things to do along the way. Introducing people I love to this beautiful, one-of-a-kind place is a truly awesome privilege.

I “co-facilitated” my dad’s move to the nursing home (ouch, that hurt). This 9 day foray spent with my family in northern Minnesota was by far, without a doubt, the most emotionally charged period of my entire life. I am beyond thankful that now my Dad is receiving such loving care in a safe and comfortable place. I learned an important lesson from this experience: that sometimes the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do.

I was able to partake in lots of amazing travel. In fact, more in this one year than in any of the 49 previous years. Hubs and I went to D.C. twice. We went to Seattle. We traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin a few times as well, spending time with our beloved family and friends. The fear of flying I once had is now absent because of this. It’s been replaced by an even stronger desire to travel.

I’ve got big personal goals for 2018. I’m not going to call them resolutions, because that’s such a loaded, not to mention overused, term.  I don’t think it’s healthy for me to have my goals set in stone, even if just in my head,  because I recognize that curveballs happen. Unexpected shit, like …..okay, I actually don’t want to put that out there because it freaks me out and I want to remain positive.


For 2018, my overarching goal is to build upon what was started in 2017. By growing my blog through higher quality writing.  By continuing to volunteer as I’m able. By finding and implementing ways to improve my workplace and the lives of the clients we serve. By branching out, driving-wise. Like hopping  on that scary I-25 and driving to Denver, getting over my still present fear of traversing freeways. By hosting more company, and exploring with them Colorado places we have yet to see. By doing more traveling with Hubs, both to visit family and friends, but also to new destinations (yet to be determined).

And finally….

In 2018, the Happiness Jar will become the Goodness Jar. As in, what good did I do today? Each and every day I will endeavor to jot down a short note about what good I put out there in the universe. Not to show what a great human being I am, because God knows I am such a work in progress. But to brighten someone else’s day, show them that they are cared about and valued. This will motivate me to be a better version of myself each day and hopefully  inspire others to consciously walk through life focusing on doing good. This might be overly ambitious, lofty even, but I think it’s worth a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

As this jam packed year comes to a close, I thank  all of you awesome readers for sticking with me on my blogging journey and wish each of you a happy, healthy, magically wonderful New Year!

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

Merry Christmas, one and all! ‘Tis the season to reflect on Christmases past, enjoy Christmas present, and dream a bit about Christmas future.

Christmases past:

Every single Christmas during my childhood, I watched as my mom sprayed the (always real) Christmas tree with noxious white spray from a can. Lord only knows how many of her children’s brain cells were unknowingly killed over the years. But the tree always looked spectacular.


Opening presents on Christmas Eve: Everyone at the same time. It was sheer, giddy, joyful, chaos.

Flash forward to my first Christmas with my in-laws, about 16 years later: Opening presents on Christmas morning. One person, one gift, at a time. This process took what felt like hours upon hours (that first year anyway). Especially with several in-laws who chose to open their gifts carefully to preserve the beautiful gift wrapping for future Christmases.

The funny thing about this, however, is that in the following years, on those Christmases when it was just the four of us at home (Hubs, me, and our two spawn), we chose to continue the Christmas morning gift opening, with one of playing “Santa”, tearing into each gift, one family member at a time.

Then there was that one Christmas spent at my in laws (about 2007?), who were living  in Iowa at the time, where we all gathered around the Christmas tree and listened to the tapes of Hubs and his younger sister that had been produced when they were kids for their grandparents who lived in Florida. Hubs and his sister told stories about what they were into at the time, like 4-H club and horses.  Listening to these tapes gave me precious insight into their childhoods and made me feel like a member of the Davis tribe. And we howled with laughter the whole time.

Christmas Present: Now we are two empty nesters winging it in a new state. Things are simpler, quieter, now. But we will make the very best of it nonetheless. We will be watching Christmas movies, making and eating high carb foods (we are currently in the throes of decimating a roasting pan of homemade Chex Mix) and (yahoo!) going out to the movies and out for dinner. And of course, missing our kiddos. And our almost 4 year old grandson. Like crazy.

This year’s Christmas tree


Christmas Future: We will be warm and cozy together in our cabin in the woods. There will be lots of Christmas lights inside and out. Christmas music will play softly in the background. Every family member, young and old,  will be there that can be there, God willing. Our two dogs, one a little pipsqueak mutt and the other a black lab, will greet guests upon their arrival. There will be good cheer and laughter, catching up, playing games. Ice cream drinks and hot toddies and lots of fun appetizers will be served. As a group, we will watch Christmas Vacation. And later, travel into town in a caravan of cars to see all the holiday lights. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’d say I can’t wait, but that would take away from enjoying Christmas present.

I hope that each and every one of you have the merriest of Christmases!



One Word Prompt: Enjoy

When I first started blogging, I often checked the daily word prompt, hoping for inspiration for a fresh and witty blog post. For the most part, I found myself coming up empty with the word of the day. So I would click for a new word. Ponder it for a moment. Nada. Then I’d clicked again, certain the next word would unleash the uber creative writer lurking inside of me. Bupkis. 

Having several sort of “meh” moments this week, it occurred to me that what I most need to do right now, in this moment, is to enjoy life. Savor it. Make the most of the ordinariness of it all. Laugh. Play. Enjoy. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “enjoy” is 1) to take pleasure in and 2) to keep, control, or experience as one’s own.

For my purposes this weekend, I’m going to focus on 1) what I’m enjoying, 2) who I’m enjoying it with and 3) how I’m enjoying my chosen subject of enjoyment. With the Christmas holiday upon us, this is surely not too complicated a task.

The what: Our church Christmas pageant rehearsal this afternoon. Hubs and I accepted a request from the mother of the writer/producer of this year’s production to play Mary and Joseph. I find this absolutely hilarious! Here we are, him just a couple of years and a few months from turning 50, and me, careening towards 51, playing Joseph (who I always presumed was in his 30’s when Jesus was born) and Mary (just a teen at the time). Hubs comment upon receiving this request was “I could see us playing Abraham and Sarah-but Joseph and Mary? Really?!”

More of the what: Watching Christmas movies. Eating good food plucked from our beloved crockpot. Making more Christmas cookies whilst jamming out to my favorite Christmas cd (Michael Buble). The simple things. Nothing fancy for this duo this weekend.

The Who: Hubs, of course. Duh. I intend to find that Santa hat he dons when he’s feeling especially merry during the holiday season. I’m going to insist he wear it for my enjoyment. He will tell me that his favorite Christmas song is “Silver and Gold” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. He, the only human in this family of four who doesn’t possess a sweet tooth, will tell me that his favorite Christmas cookies are the spritz ones. He will mimic the character’s lines while we watch Christmas Vacation, telling me his favorite one is at the end, when the policeman tells the grinchy old boss that good old cousin Eddie kidnapped and brought to the Griswold’s with a big red bow tied around his torso, “That’s pretty low, Mister, if I had a rubber hose…”.

Santa Hubs, circa 2004

The How: With a joyful spirit. With music in the background. Dressed in comfortable clothes (wisdom of being 50 is that comfort trumps fashion). With a sense of playfulness.

What will you be enjoying this weekend? This Christmas season? As one of my Christmas wishes is to receive more comments on this blog, please share with me what you are or will be enjoying!

Tales from a 50 year old optimist recently transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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